Shops Experience Busy February

13 March 2015, 06:00

Footfall in Scottish shops last month was up 1.2% on the previous year, according to new figures.

The Scottish Retail Consortium (SRC) - Springboard Footfall and Vacancies Monitor showed that footfall numbers in Scotland in February were 1.2% higher than a year ago and up on the 3% decline in January 2015.

The number of people hitting the shops has risen in nine of the last 12 months north of the border.

However, retail experts warned that urban shopping locations are facing a challenge from retail parks, which are capturing the growth in customer activity.

SRC director David Lonsdale said: "The resumption of growth in shopper footfall last month is good news.

"Indeed, shopper footfall has risen in Scotland every month bar one since last summer while across the UK as a whole the figures are less rosy.

"The challenge as ever for retailers is to try and convert that growth in shoppers into an improved performance at the tills.

"This requires a keen blend of customer service, price and attractive and welcoming outlets and shopping destinations.

"The latter requires substantial capital investment and policymakers can assist by making it easier and less costly to invest in new and refurbished stores, for example by fundamentally reforming the business rates system.''

Across the UK, footfall in February was 0.5% lower than a year ago, but an improvement on the 1.2% fall in January

Diane Wehrle, retail insights director at Springboard, said: "The increase in footfall in Scotland of 1.2% is a significant improvement on the overall drop of 3%, and the drop of 6.9% in high street footfall, recorded in January.

"However, the challenge for Scotland is the clear draw of retail parks over urban shopping locations for shoppers.

"With an increase in customer activity of 9.3% in February and an average rise of 4.8% over the period since February 2014, retail parks are clearly the favourite type of shopping destination in Scotland.

"The trend since February 2014 shows only a small decline in footfall of 0.6% in high streets and 0.4% in shopping centres.

"However, retail parks are clearly capturing the growth in customer activity, which presents a challenge for urban shopping locations in Scotland as this limits their future potential for growth.''